USA TODAY Sports
So close, yet so far.
It's always something with this team. Usually it's the shooting, but that wasn't the case last night. In fact, you break down the numbers, nothing makes sense.
What unfortunately does is another loss for the Nittany Lions, their 12th in a row. With a chance to breakthrough at home and damage a conference foe's postseason hopes, the Lions couldn't get the tying basket down the stretch, despite having two opportunities in the last minute. They were defeated by a score of 74-72.
DJ Newbill had the game of his Penn State career as his jumper was falling all game long. Despite entering 1-20 from 3 in Big Ten play, Newbill was 3-4 from behind the arc before his final look just missed off the back of the rim that would've gave PSU a 71-70 lead. It was a disappointing end for what otherwise was a phenomenal all around game for Newbill who had 26 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 1 block, and 2 steals in 38 minutes.
Jermaine Marshall also had an interesting game, as he logged a double-double with a career-high 10 assists, but missed some costly free throws down the stretch. In the first half, Marshall did a great job keeping his head up on drives and finding Sasa down low with nice interior dump-offs. However, he reverted back to his aggressive self in the 2nd half for which I don't know. Sometimes he got to the foul line, sometimes he didn't. When he did get to the foul line, he missed more than he usually does. He also had an opportunity to tie the game late, but instead of pulling up for an uncontested floater, he tried to draw contact and was easily swatted by the Iowa defense.
It shouldn't have been this difficult for the Lions if they didn't struggle so much on the defensive end. All game they were slow getting around screens or particularly dreadful at rebounding out of their zone. The Hawkeyes grabbed 41.2% of their misses for 15 second chance points. They started stringing some stops together down the stretch, but they wouldn't have fallen behind by 12 if they played better defensively all game long. Heck, they would've won if they didn't give Aaron White a clear as day look from the corner on the last possession of the first half.
With Newbill's performance and Sasa Borovnjak playing to his potential (14 points on 8 shots), Penn State had their best per-possession offensive efficiency of the Big Ten season (1.11 PPP), but the Hawkeyes were able to make the plays down the stretch. It was easily a step forward for this team, but they're still without a win in the league.
Chambers donated $14,200 to THON after the game and was pleased with the game's atmosphere.
"The students were great and the rest of the fans were great," Chambers said. "That was the loudest I've ever heard that place. We can have a home-court advantage. It can be done. It's unfortunate that we didn't come out with a win, but the atmosphere was definitely amazing. It was really special to see."
Penn State returns to action on Sunday in Ann Arbor against the Michigan Wolverines, who will be looking to bounce back from their worst loss of the year to MSU.